'Big Drunk Guy' Mural at Violet Hour Draws Mixed Reactions

By Alisa Hauser on April 5, 2013 6:32am 

 Street artists "Don't Fret" and "Milk" created a new piece they're dubbing "Big Drunk Guy." The mural went up on the wall of The Violet Hour Wednesday.
Street artists "Don't Fret" and "Milk" created a new piece they're dubbing "Big Drunk Guy." The mural went up on the wall of The Violet Hour Wednesday.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

WICKER PARK —  If art truly imitates life, then a "Big Drunk Guy" on the wall of a Wicker Park cocktail lounge just south of the Milwaukee-Damen-North avenues intersection might fit right into the mix of an area bustling with bars and nightlife.

Naked save for a pair of white underwear, the cartoonish man lounging on his back and holding a martini glass is the latest installment in the The Violet Hour's rotating mural series.

Street artists "Milk" and "Don't Fret" were working on the piece on the exterior wall of the lounge at 1520 N. Damen Ave. around 3 p.m. Wednesday.

"Don't Fret," a prolific graffiti and street artist who's created eye-catching and whimsical wheatpastes all over the city, declined to elaborate further on his work, though when asked for its title, responded: "Big Drunk Guy."  

On Thursday, the new mural attracted attention from passersby.

Michelle Vang, 30, a health care consultant, was headed to the Damen Blue Line "L" station and said she'd "definitely noticed" the mural.

"I think it's a little weird but it will be appreciated. I have never seen a naked man on the side of a wall drinking before," said Vang, 30.

Julio Ortiz, 70, a martial arts instructor, was not as enthused about "Big Drunk Guy."

"You got kids walking around, they got imaginations, I mean, c'mon, he's naked and even though you're covering it, it doesn't mean a kid don't imagine what a naked guy that's drinking like that is doing," Ortiz said.

John Vignola, 55, a semi-retired recording engineer, said he notices all the Violet Hour murals and "usually likes the abstracts ones more."

"Stylistically, it's OK but I am kind of bored with the drunk-guy-contemporary-bacchanalian-hedonistic-alcoholic-orgy-that-somehow-leads-to-being-fat-and-falling-over kind of thing," Vignola said.

Vignola will not have to be "bored" for too long, since the murals rotate often.

 Street artist "Milk" works on a new piece on the wall of The Violet Hour Wednesday.
Street artist "Milk" works on a new piece on the wall of The Violet Hour Wednesday.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

Violet Hour partner Terry Alexander told RedEye that “All artists are informed from the start [that] the work is guaranteed to be up for a month" and "the majority of work has stayed up for approximately five weeks at a time.”

Over the past few years, The Violet Hour has showcased a wide range of artwork on its mural, ranging from whales and twilight-hued nightclub scenes to geometric 3-D patterns and abstract designs that have been the target of taggers.

The most serious of the murals was "Killing Season: Chicago 2010," a visual documentation of sites of Chicago murders by artist and Violet Hour employee Krista Wortendyke.

In addition to The Violet Hour commission, Don't Fret is curating a group show, "The Young and the Restless," Saturday at Ukrainian Village's Vertical Gallery, 1016 N. Western Ave.

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